Friedman: “I had people saying to me, watch the Oilers in goal, they’re up to something. And they weren’t talking about Campbell.”
By Cam Lewis3 months ago
The Edmonton Oilers are the talk of the league right now.
The team’s record fell to 2-9-1 following a 3-2 loss to the San Jose Sharks, who had just won their first game of the season a couple of days ago. The Sharks started the year with 11 consecutive losses and now they’re tied with the Oilers in the standings.
Elliotte Friedman and Jeff Marker led off this week’s 32 Thoughts Podcast with talk about what happened in San Jose and what’s next for the Oilers. Friedman noted that general manager Ken Holland is getting to a point where he’s going to be forced to make a change, either behind the bench or in the net.
Friedman: That’s a team that’s waiting for something to happen. Jack Campbell going on waivers happened, but now, they’re waiting for something else. You can see it and they’re going to force the hands of the organization to do something.Earlier this week, I wrote in my notes that they recognize Jay Woodcroft’s record, he’s got the best winning percentage coming into this season in Oilers history. He’s only coached one full season and they don’t want to make the change, but if this keeps going, you’re going to be forced into position to do something. I think the Oilers are in that position now.Something is going to happen, whether it’s a trade or a coaching change, the Edmonton Oilers are going to have to do something. One thing I’ll say is, there are people in the league who believe the Oilers were on the precipice of a big move on Wednesday. I don’t know what happened, I don’t know where it is, but I had people saying to me, watch the Oilers in goal, they’re up to something. And they weren’t talking about Campbell.
Goaltending has been a significant topic of conversation in Edmonton this year as the team’s tandem of Jack Campbell and Stuart Skinner have combined for a league-worst .860 save percentage. Campbell was placed on waivers following Edmonton’s loss in Vancouver to the Canucks earlier this week and the Oilers will carry forward with Skinner and third-stringer Calvin Pickard as their two goalies.
The Oilers are consistently outshooting their opponents but various backups have been brick walls against them and Campbell and Skinner have given them zero room for error. Making a change behind the bench might give the team a spark but they’re not going to go anywhere if the goalies can’t make a save.
But the reality is that making a trade for a game-changing goaltender in mid-November is incredibly difficult to do. There aren’t many teams comfortable with selling at this stage of the year and, if they’re that bad, they probably don’t have a goalie you’d like to trade for. If Holland is going to make an upgrade in the net anytime soon, it’ll likely require an overpayment given how little leverage he has.
There’s been plenty of speculation that Holland would have to attach draft picks and prospects to offload Campbell’s contract to open the salary cap room necessary for another goalie. Juuse Saros of the Nashville Predators, for example, has an identical $5 million cap hit to Campbell, so a swap with sweeteners going Nashville’s way would make sense.
Moving Skinner in a trade for another goalie, as Friedman’s comments suggest, would be a significant risk for Holland to make. The 25-year-old Edmonton product was the runner-up for the league’s Rookie of the Year in 2022-23 and is signed to a value contract at $2.6 million. Skinner obviously has a lot of value to other teams for those reasons but he’s pretty far down the list of Oilers you’d like to see get moved.
Another question worth asking at this stage is whether Holland should remain in the position to make a move to pull the Oilers out of this situation. He’s the one who opted to stand still during the off-season and now his roster is now in a situation where it needs a panic-button move to turn things around.
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